The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites - HTML with Style | WebReference

The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites - HTML with Style


The Seven Habits of Effective Web Sites

The cost of ALT

IBM barely cringed when it was asked to add ALT attributes to the images on the Syndey 2000 site. It simply retorted that it would be happy to oblige, but the daunting task would require two million dollars and over twelve months of their time.

If you have a minute to spare, I'd like you to take some time to e-mail me and let me know what your reaction to this estimate was. Perhaps I'm a bit too impressionable a person, since I lost the power of speech for a few minutes when I read it.

Two million dollars? A whole year? The first thing that crossed my mind, being the greedy bastard that I am, is that if that's the estimate for adding ALT attributes, the entire site must have cost enough to make Bill Gates feel like he has to go on welfare, and must have been in development for a few millennia now. Since I doubt that my javelin-throwing ancestors where wise enough to order a Web site from IBM back in the days of Socrates, I conclude that IBM was, well, let's just say they were just a tad pessimistic in their estimation.

But this little faux pas of IBM's begs the question: What does it cost to make a site accessible? Is it really worth the effort to follow all of the advice I've been giving over the past two and a half years here on HTML with Style, or is it sufficient to knock together a frameset and a couple of tables and slap a "best viewed with IE 5.501 SP3 for Windows 95 OSR2 at 800x600, 24-bit color on a 17.35-inch monitor while standing on your head" sticker on it and go live?

The answer is not easy. Those of you who have been following this site for a while might expect me to answer with an unequivocal "yes, follow the spec and let Microsoft be damned," but you may be surprised that I'm a bit more reasonable than that. But before I arrive at a conclusion, I'd like to phrase the question in a bit more detail.


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Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: September 18, 2000
Revised: September 20, 2000